Actress and singer Ana Brenda Contreras is an up and coming star most recently playing the lead in the Televisa soap opera LA QUE NO PODIA AMAR which aired on Univision.
In 2002 at age 15, Ana Brenda moved from Texas to Mexico City to participate in the reality show POP STARS. In 2005 she began starring in telenovelas playing supporting characters over the next four years: Juanita in BARRERA DE AMOR, Claudia in DUELO DE PASIONES, Violet in JURO QUE TE AMO, and Maura in SORTILEGIO.
In 2010, she portrayed Aurora in the remake of TERESA which lead to her being cast as Ana Paula, the lead protagonist in LA QUE NO PODIA AMAR.
We Love Soaps recently spoke with Ana Brenda about her career to gain some insights into the life of an up-and-coming telenovela star. She told us she always wanted to be an entertainer.
"When I was a little girl I first wanted to be in the music business " she explains. "I did the very first music reality show in Mexico when I was 15. I won and made a music record and was on tour for a while. But I left all that to become an actress full-time. I started getting into soap operas and started acting. I'm so happy and wouldn't trade it for anything."
Ana Brenda is happy to hear many of our readers were watching her play Ana Paula in LA QUE NO PODIA AMAR using the English subtitles.
"I feel very honored because this is a traditional soap opera," she says. "To be in it, to go to other places with people who don't even speak Spanish, and for them to see the hacienda and horses and the traditional way of soap operas in Mexico is so cool."
Ana Paula was her second consecutive telenovela character in the medical field, following Aurora in TERESA.
"This is the second part in a row for me where I have to wear the gloves and suit and be in a hospital," she says. "It's interesting because its not that many times in a soap opera that you have a chance to represent a specific type of role like a nurse, doctor or lawyer. I had to give therapy and rehab. Many times, you are just playing the good girl who comes from a humble family."
The process of shooting a five-night-a-week telenovela is much different than the current daytime soap opera production--especially in terms of production lead-time and fan input.
"It's really difficult," she says. "I've done one movie in Mexico, and one drama, and soap operas, and it's very different. You have to get there at 6:30 or 7 in the morning then have an hour to do hair and make-up and then shoot by set on location. Today we might shoot Ana Paula's bedroom and have to do all the scenes from episodes 5 through 10. Sometimes we jump in time and sometimes I have to shoot one scene from episode 5 and then jump into episode 10, so emotionally it's really tough to keep up with your character and what she's thinking. You have to pull out many skills and be alert and really be there."
While the daytime soap opera ratings are reaching new lows in recent years, some of the telenovelas are setting ratings records.
"I believe it's the way the producers work in Mexico," she says. "They are always in touch with the audience, and listening, and reading emails. We are taping everything one day before we go on air. They are in touch with what people want and what they think is going to work. They will make a poll on the website like 'Who do you think Ana Paula is going to end up with: Rogelio or Gustavo?' And they listen to fans and check the answers. I think that may be the reason."
In addition to playing Ana Paula, Ana Brenda loved working on TERESA, and the role of Aurora.
"I really loved that part because I worked with the same producer (José Alberto Castro)," she explains. "That was the part that took me to play Ana Paula. But Ana Paula has been the most challenging role in my short career. It was my first leading role. It was a lot of time on the set. I had a really nice time."
She then jokes, "My next role will probably be my favorite as well."
Having done multiple soap operas in a row, Ana Brenda is ready for a bit of a break.
"I think I might as well rest a little," she says, "and be with my family. I'm thinking of taking acting classes. When you do a lot of soap operas in a row, you kind of become addicted to some television tricks. Sometimes you have to take time for yourself to become fresh again."
Having done a reality show, worked in the music business, starred in some musicals and now several telenovelas, what has been the biggest lesson Ana Brenda has learned?
"The fame, this is all a joke," she says. "It's a real blessing to be in a successful soap opera, but you have to be conscious that you might do another one and it's not as big and it's not your fault, and that's okay. You don't have to take it personally and if you can do that you will be happy."
For Ana Brenda, the future is definitely bright.
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Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps and is currently a producer on THE BAY and executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals.